Sweet potatoes are the most amazing vegetable that I used to avoid like the plague. I could not stand being served sweet potatoes as a side dish at traditional American Thanksgiving dinners, and I did not enjoy them as fries either.
But: I did give them a second chance (under y own conditions) and I am very glad I did. Sweet potatoes are sweet, very sweet, especially when roasted! This makes them an ideal natural sweetener for desserts and treats, and I’ve been using them as a key ingredient for pancakes, super-sweet sweet potato butter, and even chocolate mousse pie. Sweet potatoes are also a handy substitute for pumpkin as the consistency of roasted then mashed sweet potatoes matches that of canned pumpkin well. The main difference is the sweetness level, as the sweet potatoes tend to be sweeter, while pumpkin tends to be mild. So, if you decide to make something like these brownies, you may want to adjust the amount of additional sweet ingredients you put in.
My main trick when using sweet potatoes as an ingredient in desserts, is to roast the potatoes. Roasting sweet potatoes usually takes about 45 minutes at 425 F (220 C), and can’t be simpler. All you need to do is wash the potatoes, then place them, unpeeled, on a baking sheet and let them roast until soft. You can eat these roasted sweet potatoes as a quick snack, plus breakfast, lunch and dinner. If using to make desserts, let the potatoes cool completely before puréeing, so it is best to do the roasting a day in advance.
Sweet Potato Pie is not my invention. Oh, no – it’s a very traditional dessert of the southern United States. As with its cousin, the pumpkin pie, this dessert is traditionally made with condensed (evaporated) milk and eggs, which results in a custard-like pie. For this vegan version, coconut milk and brown sugar are cooked together to make a thick and sweet “condensed milk” substitute. Plus: the recipe uses corn starch that combines to give the pie smooth, creamy and rich consistency that is very similar to the original, and cinnamon, nutmeg and clover, which give it the easily recognizable aroma.
If you love baking, you may want to make your own pie crust. However, the store-bought crusts work well and many are vegan, so you do have a choice here. I recommend baking the crust half way through before pouring in the pie filling, and pricking it with the fork before placing in the oven to back. You may even want to weigh the crust down with beans because these crusts do tend to puff up, which is to be avoided (here is some handy advice on how to get to the perfect pre-baked crust)!
The final touch for this sweet potato pie are pecans. These nuts are also traditionally found in the southern United States, and if you don’t have them where you live you can definitely use walnuts, or almonds. You can also skip the topping altogether – the pie will not taste any less awesome!!!
Vegan Sweet Potato Pie with Pecan Topping
What you’ll need:
- 1 store-bought pie crust (or make your own – a good recipe to follow is here)
- 1 can (13.5 fl oz; 400 mL) full fat coconut milk (you can use coconut cream, but I don’t recommend using light coconut milk)
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 3 roasted sweet potatoes, puréed
- 1 cup corn starch
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon grund clover
- 30-40 whole pecans
- Whip cream for serving (optional)
What you’ll do:
- Preheat the oven to 350 F (175 C).
- In a heavy sauce pan, combine coconut milk, sugar and vanilla extract and place over medium heat. Bring to boil and decrease the heat to low, then simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, until thick. Final volume will be about 1/3 to 1/2 less than what you started with. Set aside and let the “condensed milk” cool.
- While the “condensed milk” is cooling, pre-bake the crust to about half way through, which will take about 10-15 minutes (if you are making your own crust, you will need to have one ready to go so plan accordingly). Take the pre-baked crust out and let it cool.
- As the crust is cooling, use a food processor to combine the “condensed milk”, sweet potato purée, corn starch, and the spices. The pie filling should be smooth, thick and rich.
- Pour the filling into the pre-baked pie crust, and return everything into the oven for another 20 minutes. After about 20 minutes, take the pie out, and working quickly top with pecan (or walnut, or almond) halves, arranging them in neat circles or spiral until the entire surface is covered. Return to the oven and bake for another 5 to 10 minutes, to allow the pie to finish baking and pecans to get slightly toasted. If you are keeping this pie nut free, skip the nuts, and bake for a total baking time of about 25 to 30 minutes.
- Leave the pie to cool completely before serving. Traditionally, this pie is served with whip cream, but you can serve it just as is, with whip cream or ice cream. Yummy!
Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2019